Subject: Greetings from ALA!

Hi Y'all!

Greetings from the Annual Conference of the American Library
Association.  I'm writing from the Internet room in the New Orleans
Convention Center, which is just off to the side of ALA's command
central here at the conference.

Quite a town, New Orleans is -- a blend of old and new with an
incredibly rich history, with strong French and Spanish influences
that are evident everywhere.  I've heard it described as a town that
looks on the bright side of sin -- something I can testify to, after
spending a few hours on Bourbon Street on a Saturday night, along with
hundreds of other roving librarians, wandering the French Quarter.
And yet, the influence of religion, particularly Catholicism, is
undeniable in the daily life of this city.

The conference is great, with hundreds of programs to choose from, and
thousands of exhibits to visit.  We had a rousing opening ceremony,
which featured people telling moving stories of how libraries changed
their lives for the better.  It's too easy to forget that the work
that we do can have such a tremendous impact on peoples' lives  -- it
was a very emotional experience for many of us, myself included.  The
ceremony was topped off by the keynote address by former president
Jimmy "If I Had a Hammer" Carter, who spoke of the critical role of
libraries in society, and the potential they have for empowering
people.  After the ceremony was a reception which featured a Mardi
Gras parade, complete with floats, marching bands, and police escorts
-- inside the convention center hall.

There is a lot of "positive library energy" here, and I'm having a
great time.

Till next time,

Ralph Toyama                                           /     On the Road
Automation Librarian                                  /__        in
University of Hawaii - Leeward Community College        /    New Orleans
rtoyama@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu  rtoyama@uhunix.bitnet  /      Louisiana